Community (value #10)
If you are thinking that you didn’t see “community” as a value in my original list, you’re right. But as I’ve been thinking more about things, I’ve realized that this one has to be on the list. Community is something my husband and I want to foster within our family (as well as with others outside of our family, but that’s for a different post), and, as with most things, I’m seeing this value can easily can get crowded out if you’re not careful.
“Community” is described on dictionary.com as, “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” (source) I think that’s a good start to a definition, but it still needs to be fleshed out a bit. Shun-Luoi and I want our family to be a little community in which the members love each other well, are unified, serve each other, help each other be the people God created them to be, and have similar purpose in engaging the world around them. Another aspect of community we desire is for each member of our family to contribute in some way to the community, rather than having the community revolve around any one certain person. I realize it is hard to not let the family revolve around our kids, but we really do want to fight against that. We want our kids to know that it is not “all about them,” but rather that they will realize they have an opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Practical ways to encourage this value within our family:
- Emphasize family meals together, especially breakfast and supper. I can all too often set Elijah up with some food for breakfast, then use the time while he’s eating to race around, trying to accomplish a few things during that time. I instead want to use that time for us (whoever is home) to sit down together, talk about the upcoming day, and read out of Elijah’s bible story book.
- Pick out a few daily chores for Elijah (and eventually Abigail), and then make a chore chart for him. He already enjoys helping me load the washer, unload the dishwasher, put the recycling out in the bin, and can pick up his toys (amongst other things). I think it’s important for him to always have small ways (and larger, as he gets older) in which he can contribute to the family. We also ask him often to pray at mealtimes.
- Serve together – we think it is a great idea to pick out some ways in which we can serve each others as a family. We could pick up trash at a local park, rake a neighbors leaves, or serve a meal at a local homeless shelter. We would not only be doing it together, but also passing along the values we feel are important to our children.
Do you think your family is growing toward being a community, or are you each doing your own thing? For those of you who want “community” to be a value fostered in your family, what are the practical ways in which you encourage it?